SAFER, the Southeast Agriculture & Forestry Energy Resources Alliance, has recently put together interesting summaries of bio-energy production in the Southern States. The summary for Tennessee can be found at this link: http://saferalliance1.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/tn-roadmap-data.pdf
The summary shows that Tennessee uses mostly non-renewable fuels such as coal for its energy needs, as does the country as a whole. At the same time, Tennessee has large potential biomass-energy resources in its forests (52% of the land area) and farmland (see the figure). Many sawmills use wood processing residues to heat lumber dry kilns. A number of pulp and paper mills also use wood ‘waste’ to generate electricity as well as provide steam for their mills. However, there are currently only a few dedicated bio-energy production facilities. The challenges to expansion of this capacity include conversion technology, logistics and economics but there are significant bio-mass resources (e.g. leftovers from forest harvests) in the state that could help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Time will tell if this potential becomes a reality in Tennessee.